32 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES GAMEDAY MAGAZINE about what’s going on through your career
or what’s going on in your life or if you need
some help or some guidance of handling
certain situations,” Bradham says. “He’s
definitely the perfect person.”
Lancaster has worked in the NFL since 2001,
but his first love was basketball. After a
promising high school career and a brief stint
at the Naval Academy, Lancaster felt like he
was well on his way to being basketball’s next
He was right to feel that way, as he had
multiple offers from Division I programs that
wanted nothing more than for Lancaster to
continue his basketball career with them.
But Lancaster yearned to balance basketball
with something else: education. Lancaster
had an interest in psychology and there
just so happened to be a university near his
hometown of Brownsville, Pennsylvania that
had a psychology school he was interested in
— California University of Pennsylvania.
Cal U is a member of Division II when it comes
to athletics, but it allowed Lancaster a chance
to supplement his education. Education
was a priority for Lancaster and his family
as a whole, as both of his parents were
educators. His father, Larry, was a professor
at Cal U and his mother, Adrienne, worked
for Intermediate Unit 1, a public educational
service agency based in Southwestern
Pennsylvania. She eventually retired after
being the director of special education of a
school district in Pittsburgh.
Even his grandmother, Arabelle, went back
to school at a later stage in her life to further
her education. There was a heavy emphasis
on education in the Lancaster household, and
it molded and shaped Paul into the man he
“It’s something that’s always been in me
to really help guys gain the knowledge that
they need to better themselves,” he says. “At
this point, it’s not about me. It’s about these
young men who are going to be leaving this
game and moving on to another occupation if
they choose to.”
Whether it’s obtaining a bachelor’s degree,
a master’s degree, or even getting an
internship, Lancaster instills in players the
importance of setting themselves up for life
A very important part of the education
process is helping players with their finances.
The world of finance isn’t necessarily
Lancaster’s field of expertise, so he brings in
professionals who can properly pass down
the knowledge to the players.
The Eagles, like every other team in the
NFL, held a Pro Day during the offseason for
prospects with local ties or those who played
for local programs. Among those in attendance
was Philadelphia native Shareef Miller.
Miller eventually made his way to Lancaster’s
office and sat down on the comfortable
couch. Miller wasn’t struck with fatigue like
Arcega-Whiteside. Instead, he was struck by
something else: Lancaster’s authenticity.
Miller grew up in the Frankford section
of Philadelphia, where authenticity is
paramount, and for Miller, it went a long way
to establishing a rapport with Lancaster.
“He’s like a mentor, kind of a father
figure, somebody you can go talk to about
everything,” Miller says about Lancaster.
The thing about honesty is that it can be
a double-edged sword. While it is mostly
appreciated, it can also hurt. But good, bad,
or indifferent, Lancaster is going to keep it
real with the players.
“You don’t want a guy like that, who works
closely with all of the rookies, to just lie
to you and not tell you how it is,” running
back Miles Sanders says. “He tells it how it
is and everything that he’s been telling me is
basically what’s been happening.”
Unfortunately, Lancaster has had to have
some hard conversations with players over
the years for a variety of reasons, but being
honest and straightforward helps those
conversations become productive.
The harsh reality for every athlete is that
one day, it will all come to an end. Lancaster
knows this firsthand.
Lancaster did pretty well for himself during
his time playing basketball at Cal U. He helped
the Vulcans win a Pennsylvania State Athletic
Conference Championship, was a team
captain his senior year, and even played in the
Division II Final Four.
But like most Division II basketball players, a
career in the NBA was not in the cards, which
meant Lancaster had to seriously think about
life after basketball.
“It served its purpose,” he says. “I got both of
my degrees. It put me on a path to where I am
right now. Being in collegiate athletics really
prepared me for being a part of all this.”
After college, Lancaster interned for sports
psychologist Kevin Elko, who was working
with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the time.
Through that internship he met Tom Donahoe,
who eventually became the general manager/
president of the Bills. Once Donahoe took
over, he wanted to hire someone with a sports
background for the role of director of player
engagement. Lancaster fit the bill and was
hired. He spent the next 17 years in Buffalo
working alongside seven head coaches.
But like all things, Lancaster’s time there
came to an end, which meant he had to look
elsewhere to apply his trade. The first person
he called was Elko.
“Get off the phone with me and call Tom
Donahoe,” Elko told Lancaster.
“Why?” Lancaster asked.
“Tom is in Philly,” Elko said. “They’re still
trying to fill the position there. He will get you
Lancaster took Elko’s advice and called up
Donahoe, who is now the Eagles’ senior
“Paul, someone will be calling you within the
hour,” Donahoe told Lancaster.
Lancaster indeed received an interview and
less than a week after leaving Buffalo, he was
a member of the Eagles organization. The
rest, as they say, is history.
None of this would have happened without
Lancaster thinking about his life after
basketball. It was vital to the path he took,
and he wants to instill that mindset into the
players today because at some point, their
NFL careers will come to an end. But until
that day comes, Lancaster and his team do
everything they can to make life easier for
“Maximize your opportunities while you’re
playing, create opportunities, create
networks, and then continue the education,
build upon that so that when you leave the
game, you can step into something because
of all the work you put in both on the field
and off,” Lancaster says.
If all goes right with a player, it is quite
rewarding for Lancaster. He knows more
than anyone what the players go through,
not only on the field, but away from it.
Whether it’s financial issues, family strife, or
anything else that life can throw someone’s
way, Lancaster is there through it all.
And while it seems like a lot to deal with,
it all starts with a simple conversation on the
brown leather couch in Lancaster’s office.